The snow has arrived in many parts of the country and before you know it Christmas will be here and then another New Year. What does this mean to RVers? Well, besides shoveling sidewalks and last minute Christmas shopping it means parking the RV until next spring.
Most of us have already winterized our RVers so we won’t have any problems with it next spring, but did you really prepare your RV for several months of storage? Many of us don't think about it, but the storing portion is just as important as winterizing the water system. Actually winterizing your RV encompasses much more than protecting the water system from freezing temperatures. It’s just that we’re under the impression that winterizing means to put that pink non-toxic antifreeze through our water system and everything will be okay.
When I produced our winterizing video I included an entire section on properly storing the RV. It’s important that we consider things like batteries, ventilation, the condition of sealants, mice, and fuel system protection just to mention a few. So, let’s look at some things we should do in addition to winterizing our RV water system. The storage procedures are divided into two sections, the coach storage and the chassis storage. Follow the steps below that apply to your RV:
Store your unit under a covered area if possible. If not, avoid parking under trees or in areas where grass and weeds will grow.
If you choose to buy a cover for the RV, be sure it is made of a breathable material. This will help in preventing mold and mildew.
Chock the wheels front and rear. Leave the parking brake off. If you’re storing a Pop Up angle the tongue downward to assist in snow and water run off.
Inflate the tires to the manufacturer’s recommended max cold pressure. Cover the tires to protect them from the harmful ultraviolet rays. Place something between the tires and the ground. Make sure whatever you use is larger than the actual foot print of the tire.
If you do not remove the tires for long-term storage periodically move the vehicle to prevent flat spots on the tires.
Close all of the window blinds to avoid sun exposure to the carpet, drapes and upholstery.
Wash the exterior of the unit and clean the interior thoroughly.
Make sure the awning fabric is clean and dry before storing.
On a Pop Up make absolutely sure the fabric is clean and dry before storing. This is a good time to check for tears, and repair the fabric.
Inspect all roof seams, body seams and window sealant for cracks and openings. Water can get in the smallest openings so really inspect all sealants. Consult your dealer for sealants compatible with these materials.
Service all locks with a graphite spray lubricant. Lubricate all hinges and moving parts with WD 40.
Turn all LP gas appliances off. Turn the main LP gas supply valve off. If you're storing a Pop Up or Travel Trailer make sure the LP gas regulator is covered.
Remove the fuse for the LP gas leak detector while the unit is in storage. This will prevent the batteries from discharging. Don’t forget to replace it next spring.
Insects are attracted to the odorant that is added to LP gas. To prevent mud daubers and wasps from building nests in and around your gas appliances, cover the refrigerator vent, the furnace vent and the water heater vent.
Inspect the underside of the unit thoroughly. Look for anywhere that mice or other rodents can get it, and seal as necessary.
Strategically place mouse and ant traps in and around the unit. Avoid using mouse poison inside the RV. Many RVers recommend using dryer sheets like Bounce to keep mice out.
Remove all perishables and anything that can freeze.
Leave doors, drawers and cabinets open.
Remove all consumables that would attract mice and other rodents.
Defrost the freezer compartment and clean the refrigerator. Leave the refrigerator doors open and place some baking soda inside to absorb odors.
Clean the air conditioner filters, and cover the air conditioner.
Turn off the main breaker and unplug all appliances.
Remove dry cell batteries in clocks, flashlights and other items.
The use of Maxx Air products will provide the airflow and ventilation required during storage while keeping the elements out.
To start with if you put your RV in storage it’s a good idea to remove the batteries and put them in storage too. This is quite simple to do. When you’re removing the batteries always remember to remove the negative terminal first. Clean the batteries with a 50/50 mixture of baking soda and water if necessary. Store the batteries in a cool dry place but not where they could freeze. Batteries in storage will loose their charge. Check the state of charge every month and charge batteries that are at or below 80% state of charge.
Check and fill the water levels in all batteries that are not maintenance free. Check the electrolyte level and add distilled water if necessary.
Charge all batteries as required. A discharged or partially charged battery will freeze much faster than a charged battery.
Remove and clean all battery terminals and posts. Spray the terminals with terminal dressing to protect against corrosion.
If you plan to start the unit while in storage, and to periodically plug the unit into shore power leave the batteries in the unit. Plugging it into shore power once a month for about eight hours will keep the coach batteries topped off.
If you put the unit in long-term storage; remove and store the batteries where they will not freeze. In either case keep the batteries charged.
During short-term storage, start the unit monthly and run it with the dash air on for at least 30 minutes.
If you don’t plan on starting the unit, or won't be able to start it, buy some fogging oil from a marine supply store to protect the cylinder walls. When the unit is parked where it will be stored, spray the fogging oil into the engine intake downstream from the air filter with the engine at an idle. Complete the same steps on the generator. Follow the manufacturer’s directions. DO NOT USE THIS PRODUCT IN A DIESEL ENGINE.
Fill the fuel tank prior to storage and add a fuel stabilizer. Run the engine and the generator long enough for the stabilizer to get through the system. Follow the manufacturer’s directions. If the unit is not in long-term storage exercise the generator at least 2 hours each month. Run the generator at 3/4 rated load. Consult your generator set owners manual for rated loads.
Change the oil and oil filter on the engine and the generator prior to storage. Acids accumulate in used oil and can corrode engine bearings.
Check the engine radiator for the proper concentration of antifreeze. Consult your owner's manual for the correct type of engine antifreeze. Drain, flush and refill the system every 2 to 3 years.
Drain the windshield washer reservoir or add the appropriate antifreeze solution to prevent it from freezing.
Perform full chassis lubrication prior to storage.
Now your RV is truly winterized and hopefully you won’t experience any problems when you perform your spring maintenance checks next year.